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Bangladesh: On our burning conscience

Attacks on religious minorities and indigenous groups

Wednesday 10 January 2018, by siawi3


On our burning conscience

Tribune Editorial
Published at 06:35 PM November 12, 2017
Last updated at 11:49 PM November 12, 2017

On our burning conscience
A country cannot claim progress while its minorities continue to be targeted in such a manner

Once again, we find ourselves with blood on our hands.

Dozens of Hindu families in Rangpur’s Thakurbari village now find themselves without a home, there houses ransacked, looted, and torched.

All because of a rumoured Facebook post.

This was no doubt an attempt by nefarious forces within our very society who wish to instigate violence and to create separation and discord in our society.

The original post also remains shrouded in mystery. The account, which belonged to a certain Titu Roy, was clearly an act of forgery, with the real Titu Roy’s family claiming that he was illiterate.

It is abundantly clear that Titu has been framed and is being used as a pawn to further certain bigoted agendas.

Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened.

Last year, numerous Hindu temples and idols were tortured in Goalanda under similar conditions.

Is Bangladesh no longer the secular and peaceful nation it boasts itself to be, with communal violence having become the norm?

Furthermore, the fact that certain sections of the community feel it appropriate to answer with violence due to a rumoured post on social media is a worrying reminder that we have not yet moved away from sectarian politics.

It is good to hear that 53 people have so far been arrested. But this is not where the real problem lies.

The police must investigate and get to the bottom of this. Those responsible for the original post which instigated the incident must be brought to book.

And authorities must continue work with local communities to ensure that there is harmony between different religious segments.

A country cannot claim progress while its minorities continue to be targeted in such a manner.

It is up to us to show that this goes against the spirit of what Bangladesh stands for.



‘No Hindus will be left after 30 years’

Kamrul Hasan

Published at 12:21 AM November 20, 2016
Last updated at 08:13 PM November 21, 2016

‘No Hindus will be left after 30 years’
Photo: Eminent economist and researcher Dr Abul Barkat says that there will be no Hindus left in the country three decades from now.

“The rate of exodus over the past 49 years points to that direction,” the Dhaka University teacher says in his book Political economy of reforming agriculture-land-water bodies in Bangladesh published yesterday.

Barakat was addressing the book launching ceremony at Senate Bhaban of Dhaka University.

From 1964 to 2013, around 11.3 million Hindus left Bangladesh due to religious persecution and discrimination, he said. It means on an average 632 Hindus left the country each day and 230,612 annually.

From his 30-year-long research, Barkat found that the exodus mostly took place during military governments after independence.

Before the Liberation War, the daily rate of migration was 705 while it was 512 during 1971-1981 and 438 during 1981-1991. The number increased to 767 persons each day during 1991-2001 while around 774 persons left the country during 2001-2012, the book says.

DU teacher Prof Ajoy Roy said the government grabbed the properties of the Hindus during the Pakistan regime describing them as enemy property and the same properties were taken by the government after independence as vested property.

According to the book, these two measures made 60% of the Hindus landless.

Retired Justice Kazi Ebadul Haque said the minorities and the poor were deprived of their land rights. For example, when a shoal rises in a river the local leaders register them in the name of poor people, but the same leaders file a case and take the land under the possessions showing the court’s stay order.

The deprived people remain deprived, he said, adding that the land management system should be reformed.

Dhaka University teacher Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed said that the government has to ensure that the indigenous people would not be affected or harmed. “The government must ensure that the people do not think about leaving the country for once.”

No accurate estimation of indigenous people

Discussing on a separate book of Prof Barkat Political Economy of Unpeopling of Indigenous People: The case of Bangladesh published yesterday, former NHRC chairman Prof Mizanur Rahman said that there was no accurate estimation of the indigenous peoples living in the country.

He mentioned that at least 22 indigenous groups had disappeared from the country.

Prof Mizanur also urged Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma to inform the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts about the 1997 Peace Accord.

In his speech, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum President Santu Larma agreed that the implementation of the Peace Accord was not the only solution to the crises in the CHT region.

He added that the current stance of the ruling party would not solve the disputes through different reform programmes, rather they want to hinder the process. “We need a people-oriented government. But the reality of state mechanism does not allow this to happen.”

Santu Larma, also chairman of the CHT Regional Council, claimed that over 50 indigenous groups were on the verge of extinction, but they want to live with dignity with the remaining indigenous groups.

Prof Ajoy Roy observed that in his book Prof Barkat had used the word adivasi even the government does not recognise them as indigenous peoples.

Prof Barkat dedicated the book to his childhood friends who belonged to “Buno” indigenous group, but now remain traceless, Prof Ajoy Roy said, adding that he too had met the group in a small forest in Faridpur.

“I have not heard about them since long … May be they were forced to leave the place by the land grabbers and have gone to India and took a different name.”

Prof Mizanur said although the prime minister had taken stance in favour of the indigenous peoples, the ruling party leaders were involved in heinous activities against them.

Addressing the programme as chief guest, Civil Aviation Minister Rashed Khan Menon urged rights activists to stand by the side of the indigenous peoples.